The first chief constable to be sacked for 35 years was a “shameful” liar who tried to bully a member of staff into covering for him, the police watchdog has said.
Sean Price, 55, lost his job with Cleveland Police but will not forfeit his pension after he was found guilty of two counts of gross misconduct relating to the recruitment of the then police authority chairman’s daughter.
A private disciplinary hearing concluded that Mr Price misled the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by lying and by trying to get a member of staff to lie for him.
Hearings into a further 18 misconduct charges will now not go ahead as he is no longer a serving officer. Cleveland Police Authority said it will release details of those charges if lawyers allow.
IPCC commissioner Nicholas Long made a damning statement which said: “Sean Price’s attempts to mislead the IPCC investigation by lying and putting pressure on a member of staff to lie on his behalf were shameful. He almost got away with his attempted deception.
“However, the member of staff in question showed great integrity and courage in refusing to be bullied and stood up to him by asking to submit a new witness statement to the IPCC, fully explaining Mr Price’s role in this matter.
“He has attempted to intimidate and bully staff under his leadership and mislead an independent investigation. He has failed at that – and, most significantly, he has failed the police officers and staff he led, the police service as a whole and the public of Cleveland.”
He was investigated following allegations about his role in recruiting the daughter of former police authority chairman Dave McLuckie to a civilian post. It was claimed in doing so he used “undue influence” to get her the job. The hearing found that he asked a member of staff to inquire about the job but he then denied doing so when he was subsequently investigated by the IPCC. The panel also concluded that he then directed the member of staff to lie about the matter when questioned.
Stuart Drummond, the current chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, said: “As a police officer, and particularly as a chief constable, Sean Price’s behaviour and attitude over this matter was completely unacceptable and the sanction imposed is wholly appropriate. His actions have seriously undermined his reputation and his credibility.”
Mr Price said: “I am extremely disappointed with the result. I believe the disciplinary proceedings have, sadly, come to an incorrect conclusion. When the judgment was delivered and I was offered the chance to put forward mitigation, I declined – the panel was mistaken in their finding and I could not seek to argue for a lesser punishment for something I haven’t done. I will therefore be discussing with my lawyers over the next few days how this can be addressed.”